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“We pray today that Najaf will recover. The military operations have brought only destruction.”

Kassem Hameed, 52, oil worker from Basra who went to Najaf to support Ayatollah Sistani

The Grand Ayatollah led a huge pilgrimage to Najaf to wrest the holy shrine from the Militant Moktada al-Sadr forces who held the Imam Ali Mosque since early August and the US Marines and Iraqi police surrounding and attacking them.

First report is that the religious leader got an agreement to make holy cities Najaf and Kufa weapon-free and that the militants are laying down arms and leaving.

Time will tell.

The agreement also promises complete removal of American forces. The comment of Kassem Hameed who answered Sistani’s call to march on Najaf echoes Sistani’s consistent call for peace and removal of military forces: “We pray today that Najaf will recover. The military operations have brought only destruction.”

The city is ravaged. The holy shrine is full of armed forces furious to defend the shrine against the infidel American occupiers. The holy shrine is encircled by furious Marine forces seeking to destroy the rebel cleric inciting insurrection against them. Al-Sadr, like Hussein, is famous for agreeing and then changing his mind. Like those he condemns as violent invaders, he has violently invaded the sanctuary.

Craven politicians crow that war is peace and freedom and liberty. In the holy place in Najaf, if the infidel invaders hold back, the difference between peace and destruction may emerge.

It’s disarming.

DIANE CHRISTIAN is SUNY Distinguished Teaching Professor at University at Buffalo and author of the new book Blood Sacrifice. She can be reached at:


DIANE CHRISTIAN is SUNY Distinguished Teaching Professor at University at Buffalo and author of the new book Blood Sacrifice. She can be reached at:

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